Processor, Performance, and RAM
Between the iPhone SE and the iPhone XR, the processor varies by a pretty solid margin. The iPhone XR comes with the A12 Bionic chipset from 2018 whereas the iPhone SE comes with the latest A13 Bionic chipset that’s inside the iPhone 11 series as well.
Design-wise, both these chipsets are similar. Both the A12 Bionic and the A13 Bionic come with a 6-core CPU with 2 high performance cores and 4 high efficiency cores. They also come with a 4-core GPU with Metal support, and an 8-core Neural Engine for AI and ML tasks.
However, with the A13 Bionic, Apple has made huge strides forward not only in terms of performance (which has always been top-notch on iPhone chipsets) but more importantly in terms of battery life.
The A13 Bionic offers 20% faster performance cores that use 30% less energy. The high efficiency cores are also 20% faster but use 40% less energy. The GPU uses 40% less energy as well, and the Neural Engine uses 15% less energy as compared to the A12 Bionic.
Overall, Apple claims the A13 Bionic offers upto 40% better battery lifethan the A12 Bionic did, and that makes a solid difference.
Look, as far as performance is considered, the A12 Bionic and the A13 Bionic won’t make much of a real-world difference. They are both high-end chipsets that will easily last you 2-3 years without being massively impacted. However, the battery life differences are considerable. In my experience, the iPhone 11 lasts much longer than my iPhone XR does, and a lot of it is probably because of the A13 Bionic’s more power-efficient design.
That said, multi-tasking still might take a slight hit on the iPhone SE. A leaked Chinese telecom listing suggests that the phone has 2GB RAM. That’s actually decent for iOS to handle apps, but the iPhone XR has 3GB RAM so it will obviously be considerably better at handling multiple open apps.
Anyway, as far as the processor is concerned, there is no reason to even consider the iPhone XR when compared to the iPhone SE 2020. The SE brings the latest chipset which is not only more powerful in every way, but also more power efficient. I would wait a bit to see actual reviews of the iPhone SE though, because the 2GB RAM might be a slight issue.